Should You Opt for a Jury or Bench Trial?

Posted by Stephen Garcia | Jul 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

One of the big decisions that you might have to make is whether you want your case to be decided by a judge or a jury. This is no small matter – the outcome could have a huge impact on your life, after all. You have a right to a trial by jury, and the question becomes do you want to take advantage of it?

Generally speaking, most defendants choose to opt for a jury of their peers, and for good reason: to be judged guilty, the jury must be unanimous and you have better odds of convincing one out of 12 people of your innocence than you do a single judge.

If there's a deadlock, or if just a single juror disagrees with his or her peers, the judge will be forced to declare a mistrial. When this happens, the prosecutor will either have to retry the case, dismiss the charges or work out a plea agreement.

A mistrial usually benefits the defendant because you'll know who the prosecutor will bring up to testify, giving the defense lawyer the ability to more effectively cross-examine. The prosecutor will often choose to offer a better plea deal or dismiss the case because they know that they are in a weaker position.

There's also an emotional element that you should consider. Judges are less swayed by their emotions because of their vast experience in the courtroom. Jurors are more prone to becoming emotionally involved if they can relate to the defendant in some way.

Of course, this general advice might not be best for your individual case. In specific situations, we might be able to take actions that avoid a trial altogether, such as filing a motion to dismiss the case. You have options, and a good defense attorney will go over them with you so that you understand the pros and cons of each one.

Are you facing charges in Arizona? Contact Garcia Law for a free consultation 24/7.

About the Author

Stephen Garcia

Attorney Biography Before becoming an experienced trial lawyer, Stephen Garcia graduated from Arizona State University and then moved to New York City where he attended New York Law School. There, he began his formal training in criminal law, serving as a law clerk at the New York County Attorne...


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